Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Time's a Wasting

I finished chapter ten last night, so if I follow my usual 20-chapter structure, that means I'm halfway through with the book. At this point, though, I'm not sure how long the book will really end up being. There's so much more to fit in that I suspect this one will go longer than usual. Or the first draft may end up long, I'll realize it's a bloated mess, and go back in and trim it, maybe cutting out a subplot or two.

Needless to say, my productivity does seem to be improving. It's only a few days into the new year, but I am managing to stick to most of the goals I set. I am taking a daily walk, and I am wearing shoes more often. I've also been doing little bits of house cleaning. Not that the house is anywhere near clean, but it's getting gradually better. And I'm getting more work done.

Because I've noticed that while I feel like I'm too busy to do anything but write, yet I don't usually spend more than a couple of hours a day writing, I've been trying to keep track of how I'm spending my time. At first I was just tracking the amount of time I spent on various work-related projects, like I used to have to do when I worked in the PR agency world. But then I realized how little of the day I was spending actually working, even if I tried to stretch the definition so that I counted posting on online message boards as "marketing" time (with the justification that I have my web address in my profiles on those boards, and if someone likes my posts, they might just click through and find my web site and learn about me as an author. Yeah, I know, it's a stretch.). That brought up the question of where my time actually goes, and I'm starting to suspect alien abduction because I seem to have a knack for losing whole hours.

I'm not a particularly structured person who has to schedule every moment or make use of every moment. I'm a firm believer in down time and relaxation. But my problem is that I can't recall what I did with those lost hours as I try to list what I've done for a particular part of the day. I'd be fine if I could note that I was reading a book or watching TV or even lying on the bed and daydreaming. It's those gaps where I can't think of what I might have been doing other than hitting the "receive mail" button on my e-mail program in case someone sent me an e-mail in the five seconds since I last checked that bother me. That's time when I'm not being productive, but I'm also not enjoying myself. I've found that those times are most likely to happen when I'm preparing to start writing, when I tell myself that I'll check e-mail one last time, and then I'll get to work. Once I get to work I enjoy myself, but starting is the hardest part. So now I'm working to cut back on that wasted time so I can get my work done and have more time to do other things.

And now I guess I'd better get to work because I know I won't be writing tonight. I'll be watching the Rose Bowl and keeping my fingers crossed for the Longhorns. I actually have a short attention span when it comes to football and am usually bored by the last half unless it's a really tight game (in which case I tend to get stressed and need distraction). That's why I like that college football is usually played on Saturdays, when there are four crossword puzzles in the newspaper, including the terribly hard diagramless puzzle (you not only have to figure out the clues, but you have to figure out how the grid comes together). I may have to keep a book handy tonight to keep myself busy, except that the book I'm reading right now is about the ballet world, which kind of clashes with football (hey, I'm well-rounded).

Anyway, Hook 'em!

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